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the razor’s edge: knowing and not knowing

  • When religion is not doing its job well, almost every other aspect of society also will be sick. When your God image is true, your self-image also will be true. If your operative God image is toxic, you probably will be toxic too, and it is that toxicity that Jesus is warning about.
  • Those who know God are always humble; those who don’t are invariably quite sure of themselves
  • dualistically clean language, reward and punishment, becomes a substitute and smokescreen for the real goal of religion, which is always divine union
  • because it is so hard to talk about union, about God or about eternity with any clear credibility or any eyewitness accounts.
  • Now the second-best things, according to Zimmer, which “are almost always misunderstood,” are those things that merely point to the first-best things. Those are things like philosophy, theology, psychology, art and poetry, all of which – like sacred Scripture – are so easily misunderstood
  • In fact, what we have largely done is talk about “the third-best things” where we can feel that sense of certitude, order and control–things like finances, clothing, edifices, roles, offices and who has the authority
  • the two streams
  • the knowing tradition and the not-knowing tradition
  • Perhaps the most universal way to name the two traditions is with the words darkness and light
  • the lunar light was much more subtle, filtered and indirect, and sometimes, in that sense, more clarifying and less threatening. The solar light can sometimes be too bright, and so clear that it actually obscures, or blinds you
  • Jesus is much more of a “lunar” teacher, patient with darkness and growth. He clearly says himself, “The seed is sprouting and growing, but we do not know how”. (Mark 4:27). Jesus seems to be willing to live with such not-knowing, surely representing the cosmic patience and sure control of God
  • desert & mountaintop
  • The best-selling Left Behind series would be an example of such an appeal to fear in general, fear of death, God as vengeance and religion as superiority and exclusivity. There’s not much love in sight. It’s an overwhelming judgment on the immaturity of Western Christianity that it is drawn to such books, which ask almost nothing of the read except ideas.)
  • We have knowing and not-knowing beautifully integrated in two companion pieces in the Scriptures: Moses on Mount Sinai and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration
  • today’s confusion
  • The fundamentalist mind is a mind that likes answers and explanations so much, that it remains willfully ignorant about how history arrived at those explanations, or how self-serving they usually are
  • we do not settle today’s confusion by pretending to have absolute and certain answers, when the Bible never promised us many anyway
  • We settle human confusion not by falsely pretending to settle all the dust, but by teaching people an honest and humble process for learning and listening for themselves
  • The Judeo-Christian tradition was not supposed to be a top-down affair, but an organic meeting between an Inner Knower, accessed by prayer, and the Outer Knower, which we could call Scripture and Tradition
  • prayer as the process
  • The two paths of knowing and not-knowing are primarily taught through prayer itself
  • “do not talk about it”
  • Until you’ve gone through the mystery of transformation from the false self to the True Self, don’t talk about these things, because you will almost always misuse and misinterpret the experience
  • Our very reading of the Bible is our interpreting it through our culture, through our temperament, through our personality, through living at this time in history, or wherever. That is always an interpretation
  • prayer and suffering are the two primary paths of transformation. Only then do we begin to read Scripture with what Deuteronomy (10:16) and Jeremiah (4:4) call “a circumcised heart” and hear it with “circumcised ears”(6:10)
  • an idolatry of words
  • you end up in the fundamentalist dead-end that we are in today — inisting on conclusions that are note there and that are often contradicted in other texts (which are then ignored), condemning things Jesus never once talked about (homosexuality and birth control), and legitimating things that Jesus strongly criticized (wealth and violence)
  • we only hear what we already agree with or what we have decided to look for
  • There are certain truths that can be known only if we are sufficiently emptied, sufficiently ready, sufficiently confused or sufficiently destabilized. That’s the genius of the Bible! It doesn’t let you resolve all these questions in theology classrooms
  • we cannot just fall in love with abstractions but only with concrete people and concrete moments and a personal God
  • the roundabout way of “wilderness”
  • There is no path to peace, but peace is itself the path
  • Only people who have first lived and loved, suffered and failed, and lived and loved again, are in a position to read the Scriptures in a humble, needy, inclusive and finally fruitful way. If you put the Scriptures in the hands of a person uninitiated by life, they will always make it into a head trip. It becomes a set of prescriptions instead of an actual description of what is real and what is unreal
  • the best was at the beginning
  • the real meaning of speaking the name of God “in vain” is to speak God’s name casually or trivially, with emptiness, with incomprehension, and therefore with a false presumption of understanding–as if we knew what we were talking about!
  • they are very likely a brilliant attempt to replicate human breathing: YH on the captured in breath, and WH on the offered out-breath!
  • Let your breathing in and out, for the rest of your life, be your prayer to–and from–such a living and utterly shared God

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